Rundown: This is an All Human (AH), Out of Character (OOC) – to some degree or another - Bella x Edward (BxE) fic. Thanks to MC for agreeing to beta this for me!
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all its characters.
Thanks for reading.
Chapter 1: Pizza and Packing
"Yes, Mom, I promise, I'll bring pepper spray," I said with a sigh as I leaned against the counter in my little apartment's kitchen.
"Rose too," my mom fretted sternly.
"Okay," I promised her, though I was certain Rosalie was not going to let anyone do anything to either of us, pepper spray or not. Rose was a force to be reckoned with. She was very nearly the victim of rape back when we were in college. A case of unfortunate happenstance found Rose alone late at night walking from the bar back to our apartment one night. I was stressed about a final I wanted to study for the next week and had stayed in—something I would never stop kicking myself about. But Rose handled herself just fine. Incredibly, that woman bit the guy's chest, drawing blood, and managed to tear his nut sack with her freshly manicured nails. She scared the living death out of me when she got back to the apartment with ripped clothes, all dirty and bloody. Admittedly, she was shaken up. But it wasn't from being so close to being a victim, it was because she was in a shaken rage. She wanted that guy's demise the way a vampire was consumed with the need for blood. Rosalie couldn't stop rambling nonsense about letting the guy get away. Of course the police found him pretty quickly. Given the fact the injuries she inflicted on him, they just had to keep an eye on the local hospitals. I was proud and in awe of my best friend when I found out what she'd done to the guy—and to be honest, a bit frightened.
So, despite feeling certain we'd be fine, I conceded to my overly concerned mother because I could picture her worrying a hole in the kitchen floor with her pacing back and forth, fretting about my and Rosalie's trip.
"Thank you," she breathed a sigh of relief. I could almost hear her relaxing. "It will make your father and I feel a lot better about the two of you going on this trip."
Because we're just helpless damsels, I thought sarcastically.
Okay, so, I'd probably trip over my own feet trying to run away from an attacker, rendering my self-defense skills useless, so my mom had a point there. But Rose? I would have liked to have seen a guy who thought he could try to take her down. That woman was like a grizzly bear cub; she looked beautiful and harmless, but those claws could kill.
"Well, have a safe flight and give me a call when you arrive so I know you got there alright." she ordered.
I sighed. My mother, the eternal worrier. It was amazing to me that she didn't suffer from ulcers.
"Sure, mom. I promise to call you, but don't freak out and have Dad or Jake register me as a missing person if you don't hear from me within five minutes of our scheduled landing time," I teased my mom with a laugh.
"Ha, ha Bella," she said dryly. "Don't get smart."
"Alright Mom, I'd better get packing."
"Okay, but don't forget, I'll talk to you tomorrow," she reminded sternly. "And have a great time. I can't wait to hear all about it."
"Bye." I said as I quickly snapped my phone shut and threw it onto the kitchen counter before my mother could think of something else to make me promise her.
I loved my mother, but it was like she had two polar opposite personalities living in her body at the same time, like a grownup and a kid living trying to co-exist as one person. On one side, she would worry to the point it was like a worm eating at her; the more she thought about it the worse it got until she was driving herself and everyone around her crazy, especially when it came to her children—a byproduct of seeing and hearing about too many horrors from being married to a police chief; even if it was in just a small town like Forks. But then there was her flip side. The side where she treated my sister and me like we were her best friends instead of parent/children. That part was mostly great, except for the fact that she wanting us to talk about our sex lives with her. Thankfully for me, I didn't have much of a history with the other sex, which saved me from too many fiery blushes when she'd try to get Jess and me to share with her.
I turned to my fridge and began rifling through it, looking for something to eat for supper. I stared and stared inside the thing, willing for some sort of food to magically appear.
Nope. Still nothing.
Sigh. I really wished I wouldn't have forgotten to eat lunch.
As if in conversation with me, my stomach twisted in a hollow rumble, moaning with its emptiness.
I let out a growl of frustration. Then—and I completely blame this on the hunger—I started talking to my stomach.
"Fine," I told it curtly, in reply to its pitiful sounding whine of a grumble. "You go ahead and tell me how I'm going to make something eatable out of a stick of butter," I said tersely picking up each item as if proving to my empty stomach, I wasn't holding out on it, "an opened package of shredded mozzarella cheese, a nearly empty jar of pickles, and a half a jar of jam." I finished plopping the jar of jam down with a loud "thunk."
My stomach made no reply to my point. Whether it was in petulant silence or it conceded my point, I didn't know. But either way, it made me feel like I'd won the argument.
Yes. An argument with my stomach. It wasn't my finest moment.
A quick flicker of wonder passed through my mind of what Freud would think of my speaking to my stomach like it was its own person. Would he classify me as crazy? Or would he tell me some part of my childhood was to blame? Like how, according to Freud, people who have some sort of oral fixation; smoke, suck their thumbs, bite their nails, etc were weaned as a baby too early or too late.
I mentally shrugged, brushing off the thought as I shoved the refrigerator door closed with more force than necessary. I took a breath, said a silent prayer to the food gods and pulled open the freezer holding out little hope of success.
I—ever diligent—had done my best to not keep much for food on hand the last several days. I ate up what I had and didn't buy anything new unless I knew for certain I would use it up before I left and—stupidly—threw things away a night too early. With leaving the next morning I was to the point of pretty much… nothing.
I supposed it was kind of silly for me to be so thorough. I was going to be gone less than a week, and really, most things would still be fine after that amount of time. The problem was a deeply engrained habit I'd picked up from my mother when I was little that had now gotten to the point where it was almost obsessive compulsive.
Another brain shrink musing. I was full of those tonight.
Well, the toss all food habit wasn't really from my mother per se. More aptly, it was a habit I'd forced myself into in order to avoid coming home from a trip to near vomit-inducing surprises. There had been some not so welcoming homecomings that greeted my family when we'd come back from family vacations growing up. One in particular, My dad, had always insisted on turning off the thermostat while we were away to save electricity and my mom had left out an open container of milk on the counter from breakfast the morning we'd left. To make matters worse, it was one of the hottest weeks on record that week we were gone. Sweltering heat beat down on that milk, through the window, while we were away and the house turned into something akin to a sauna, resulting in a horribly rancid smell that assaulted us when we'd returned. The stench seemed to permeate through the house so even when we removed the culprit and aired out the house, the odor lingered behind. For the longest time I could still smell rotten milk in the carpet, furniture, curtains, clothes, everything, though I wasn't ever sure if the smell really did latch itself into every fiber of the place or if the memory was just that jagged. Of course I stopped smelling spoiled milk after the time my mom left out a can of garbage in the kitchen; forgetting to take it out. It was full of food from the fridge, making an attempt to clean it out before we left—she'd tried. Our return was a very similar scenario. Even if though it hadn't been a record heat that time we were gone, it didn't take away from the fact of how awful the house stunk.
After a few various versions of that, I began to take it upon myself to remove all items of food in the house that had even the smallest bit of a chance of spoiling in absence of daily supervision. I was unwilling to go through anything like that again, in turn it became a deeply engrained habit to purge almost everything before leaving longer than a day—a habit that was backfiring spitefully on me right now.
As I surveyed the freezer, my first thought was that I was right in my bleak prediction. It seemed to be about as empty as the fridge. I shifted around frozen bags of vegetables and a half-eaten cup of a Dairy Queen Snickers blizzard. I inspected it. It was rock hard and freezer burnt, but I had to admit, it was winning the race of supper possibilities.
I dared my stomach to protest. Wisely, it remained quiet.
Stubbornly refusing to accept defeat in having to make a run for food or skip supper altogether, I persisted—ignoring my stomach as it practically reached out and grabbed the car keys from the table. Sadly, I got far too excited when I spotted a package of tater tots in the back corner.
I pulled the bag out and stood there in front of the open freezer debating on whether or not tater tots would be good enough to be the only food I ate that day. Work had been so chaotic trying to wrap things up before leaving, the day slipped by without being able to stop for much more than the occasional sip of coffee.
At this point, the tater tots were looking mighty good.
My stomach spoke up, demonstrating its echoing emptiness as if telling me to suck it up and find it some actual food already.
It had a point.
I moved to put the bag back in the freezer when I spotted something hiding under where I'd found the tater tots in the back corner. I reached in and tugged the item out with a hard yank—the ice build-up put up a good fight, but I won… I nearly fell on my ass when I dislodged my find, but I had won all the same.
When I looked down at the item in my hands, it was as if the thing glowed, and I heard the celestial chorus singing a resounding, "aaahhhhh!"
A frozen pizza.
I clutched it excitedly—not caring about its freezer burned state—and hugged the pathetic-looking thing to my chest as I twirled around to set the oven temp. It was no gourmet meal, but it was good enough for me. I twirled back to the refrigerator—bruising my hip on the edge of the counter in the process—and pulled out the bag of shredded cheese I had in there. I emptied the bag's contents onto the ice-coated pizza, making an impressive mound, crowning the little thing, feeling quite satisfied with myself in both finding something for supper and using up one more thing before heading out.
I flipped the lid of the garbage to throw the now empty cheese package away when my phone sang out my newest favorite song.
Despite my love of the song, I cringed at the sound. I figured, for certain, it was my mom who had thought of something else to make me promise to do. Like, maybe somehow buy a Conceal and Carry permit and handgun before the flight out the next morning—despite the impossibility due to the waiting period for background screening—so I could have a gun with me for protection.
I let out a groan as I trudged to the phone, dragging my feet the three steps to get to it. Because far-fetched as it might have seemed, it was exactly the kind of think my mom would dream up.
Ugh. Or worse, she was calling because, though she had sternly instructed me to pack condoms, she forgot to make me promise to tell her about any hook-ups I had, hoping for once I'd let loose so she could live vicariously through me.
Despite the highly unlikely chance that would happen, my face heated up just thinking about it.
I grabbed my phone off the counter and looked at the display. I felt instant relief—and a wave of excitement. It was Rosalie.
"Hey Rose!" I said grinning ear-to-ear the moment I'd flipped my phone open, and continued talking without waiting for her returned greeting. "Can you believe that we finally leave tomorrow?"
"I truly can't wait," Rose said with a grin in her voice. "So, are you all packed and ready?"
"No. I… haven't started packing yet, actually," I reluctantly admitted to her. "Unless of course, you count reducing the amount of food in my apartment to the point even a mouse would probably not be able to sustain itself. At least I shouldn't return to a rodent problem." I added in mock delight.
I turned to the stove and set the oven timer. Normally, charred pizza would just be annoying, but with no stock of food presently at my place; it would be detrimental.
"Are you serious?'
"Yes, I'm serious. I was far too thorough with my food removal this time. I almost didn't have anything to eat tonight."
She let out a sharp, petulant sigh knowing I was dodging an answer to her question. "No. You really haven't even started packing yet?"
"Don't worry; I'll be packed and ready in time. Have a little faith."
I could practically hear Rose's eyes roll over the phone. But I knew that she knew I was right.
"You know, I should have become a teacher," I said the random thought that had crossed my mind aloud with a sigh as I opened the fridge foolishly hoping I'd missed a beer or soda somewhere in there.
Nope. Tap water it was.
"What? I haven't heard you mention teaching in probably years. Did something happen at work? I thought you liked working at Newton's… despite the fact that you're the least outdoorsy person I know."
Newton's was a sporting goods company that was rapidly opening more and more stores throughout the country—owned by none other than my brother-in-law's family. My family and friends, of course, found the humor in the fact that I worked there, even if it was in their office in Port Angeles.
"I don't need to be outdoorsy to work in an office," I bristled. "I work with computers, meetings and conference rooms. Very indoors, remember? But no, I do still like it there well enough, I just had the thought that if I'd become a teacher like I was going to, I'd be off of work for the rest of the summer."
Rose hummed in agreement. "You have a really good point."
"I know I do. But dreaming aside, what I really should have done was taken today off to get ready. I take it you're all packed and ready to go," I confirmed, already knowing the answer.
"Almost. I would be, but Royce is coming to pick up Henry in about a half hour and with having to go the next week without seeing him, I wasn't about to waste time with him packing. But right now he's eating, and being a typical boy, that's all he's focused on. So, I thought I'd give you a quick call," Rose defended herself.
Royce was Rosalie's ex-husband and Henry was their little son who was almost three. He was an adorable, doll of a thing—complete with dimpled cheeks. He was a perfect, gorgeous mix of the two stunning people that were Rose and Royce getting both Royce's smile, Rose's piercing violet-blue eyes.
Henry was the type of child that tricked a person into thinking kids weren't such a bad idea. Being around Henry or a child like him would result in even the most resilient to the idea of children to be bitten hard with baby fever because he was so adorable, charming and sweet. Rose openly admitted her luck in having one of the best behaved children on record because even at his worse it was better than many kids' best. Rose joked that there was no way, after Henry, she would be able to have another child. She said, with how good Henry was, her next child would be bound to be Satan's spawn—child from The Omen horrible.
Royce and Rosalie had a whirlwind romance a few years ago. They'd met and married within just a couple months' time.
Not that I blamed Rosalie for jumping the gun with Royce. He was the definition of a catch; handsome, smart, funny, kind, affectionate, sweet and—after Henry came—a great father. To be honest, I still thought the two of them should try to reconcile and I didn't keep it a secret I felt that way.
"How is Royce?" I asked full of meaning.
"Royce is fine," Rosalie answered the literal question, ignoring the embedded—making me laugh. "He's actually beside himself excited to get to have Henry all to himself for the next week—it's actually pretty adorable. You should hear all the things he has planned to do with the kid. Henry is going to think I'm boring when I get back, not to mention he's is justas psyched as Royce is. Of course I'd made the mistake of telling him he gets to spend a whole week at Daddy's while I go spend some time with you. He's been asking about it non-stop since. Every time he sees Royce he tells me, 'Bye-bye Mommy! Have good trip.' And when he doesn't, he asks me, 'when you go 'way so I can go fun places wif daddy'," Rosalie said mimicking her son's voice. "I wish he would have been more of a Mommy's boy. I'm still kind of salty that he prefers Royce so much more than me. I thought it was mommies and their boys," she huffed.
"Come on, it's cute he's so excited," I said smiling at her light whine.
"Yeah, whatever. It still sucks being the dispensable one," Rose griped. "Someday Bella, you'll have a kid—despite your claim you won't—and they'll want nothing to do with you. And when you come to me complaining about it, I'll tell you 'I told you so.'"
"Gee, thanks Rose. How sweet," I said with mock appreciation.
"Aw, you know I'd bring alcohol to ease the sting of it," she added in consolation. "Anyway, you need to get moving on packing or you'll still be up when I come by in the morning. You know, actually I'm really surprised you hadn't even started."
"I haven't had time, my mom was on the phone with me from the time I got off work until just a minute ago."
"Is she all worked up?" I could hear the knowing smile in her voice.
"To say the least," I laughed. "She had to talk to me about all the things she's worried about, which of course made her more worried. Then, of course, she made me promise to take precautionary measures."
"Did she tell you that you'd better have condoms packed?"
Rose knew my mom well.
"You know she did," I laughed and blushed. "But I was talking about the pepper spray she made me promise we'll both carry."
"Sounds like I need to add that to my last minute store run list," Rose snorted a laugh. "Pepper spray," she paused probably to write it down. "Got it."
"So," I cleared my throat, "would you mind picking up one for me too? Since you're already going out and all."
Rosalie laughed. "Sure. Pepper spray times two."
"Where do you even get pepper spray?" I wondered out loud.
"You are related to not one but two police officers, and you don't know?"
"What? I've never had to buy any. Charlie and Jake had always given me cans of the stuff."
"So… why don't we just take along some of your stockpile? I'm sure you have a mountain of them. Or have you been using it on unfortunate random people for entertainment?"
A laugh burst from my mouth.
"That would be something you'd do, not me," I teased. "No, I just don't have any, actually. I very smartly emptied my drawer full of pepper spray cans I'd collected over the years and threw them in the trash about a month back."
"Great timing, Bella."
"Yeah, I know. I seem to have a knack for it," I said with false smugness.
"Alright, I'd better get my last few minutes with Henry—he's almost done eating. Get packing because if you stay up all night and are still asleep when I get to your place in the morning, I will not hesitate to go on this trip alone."
"It won't happen," I promised. "But why don't we give each other a call in the morning just in case?"
"Sounds like a plan. Hey, is your brother still driving us to the airport?"
"Yep. Jake will be at my place bright and early tomorrow morning."
"Great. Oh crap! Royce is here early." Rose spoke away from the phone, "Henry, hon? Go wash your hands. Daddy's here."
An excited Henry could be heard screaming, "Daddy!" then "Bye-bye Mommy! Bye!" in the background, completely ignoring his mother's request to wash his hands.
"I have to go. See you in the morning." Rose ended the call before waiting for my reply.
I set down my phone and hopped up onto the corner of the kitchen counter to wait for my pizza to finish baking. I leaned my head against the cupboards and closed my eyes letting my mind drift.
Rosalie and I had met our first year of college, when she practically bit a guy's head off who wasn't getting the picture that I wanted to be left alone. She'd overheard, got annoyed at the guy for being so dense and stepped in. It wasn't that I didn't know how to handle myself, I was completely fine and could have handled the situation, I had just went for the non-decapitating route first. Rose? She went straight for the nuts. Her theory was that it was better to got it out there instead of dancing around things. She'd always tell me that an issue wouldn't get resolved if the other party didn't know there was a problem to begin with.
Many people disliked Rose because of her love of brutal honesty and I could see why. I would have probably not looked as kindly on Rose if I'd first encountered her telling me exactly what she thought of me—sharp edges to it and cut and all. Between her stunning beauty and her abruptly brash personality, it didn't win her a popularity vote with other women. But it had become one of my favorite things about Rose. I liked that I never had to guess with her, I didn't have to wonder whether she really liked me or was just pretending she did, like I'd found with far too many people in my lifetime.
I gave a start when the oven timer beeped, loud and demanding, telling me the pizza was ready, breaking me out of my train of thought.
Resisting the urge to dive into the pizza the moment I pulled it out of the oven and burning my mouth, I took the pizza, a glass of water and a roll of paper towels—I was so classy—to the bedroom with me so I could eat and pack at the same time. Setting down the items—trying to ignore how amazing the pizza smelled—I picked up the list I'd compiled of what I didn't want to forget to pack and went to pull out my suitcase from the other room.
When I returned to the bedroom, the smell was just too much to withstand and I caved. I plopped my luggage onto my bed and practically ran to the pizza—knocking my shin on the corner of the bed in the process.
Ungh! God that hurt!
I grabbed a piece of scalding hot pizza, still hopping on one leg from my freshly knocked shin, and took a bite, ignoring my logical side telling me it was a bad idea.
"Ugh! Shit! Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow!" I reached for the paper towels—nearly spilling over the glass of water in my haste—to wipe the scalding hot pizza sauce and string of cheese that has swung to and clung on my chin.
After I removed the burning food, I tried to do damage control for my poor mouth by dumping the entire glass of water—that had narrowly escaped demise from the paper towels a moment earlier—into my mouth and down my throat.
I went to pour myself a fresh glass and forced myself to ignore the smells that were making my stomach begin to riot as if telling me it knew the food was out there and if I wasn't going to send it down, things were going to get ugly.
In effort to block out my stomach's shouting, I let myself get wrapped up in the excitement of The Trip. I was beyond excited about it, Rosalie and I had talked about doing this forever and now it was finally a reality.
Ha. The Trip. Rosalie and I had talked about our trip so much for so long; it had been given a proper name. "When we go on The Trip…" "I was thinking of places we could go to for The Trip." "I think I have enough money saved up for The Trip."
A couple hours later, I had finished far more of the frozen pizza than I would ever care to admit—but my stomach was happy—and everything was packed or ready to go.
Exhausted, I had a bit of an internal debate over the pros and cons of crawling immediately into my bed as I was dying to do, or hop into the shower. My body practically threw itself on the bed, but I rallied against it and headed to the shower deciding I would thank myself in the morning if I happened to oversleep. Given the sheer exhaustion I was feeling at that moment, it worried me that Rose's fear was actually a possibility. I had worked long hours, ran around all over preparing for The Trip and slept next to nothing. I was glad I knew Rose would save me in the morning with a safety net of a phone call if I should oversleep.
After the shower, I crawled into bed and curled up under the soft covers realizing the good thing about being so worn out was that I knew I wouldn't be up all night too excited to sleep. I could already feel sleep washing over me the moment I laid my head on my pillow hoping The Trip would be as great as I was anticipating.
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